Young Composers’ Competition winners announced!

Artist Spotlight Session with Paul Nash



Paul Nash

Choir Position


Favourite Memory of being in the Vancouver Chamber Choir

Without a doubt, it was our extraordinary 2009 concert tour of Taiwan and Japan. We had the privilege of performing concerts in several locations on Honshu, and collaborating with local choirs. We were made to feel very welcome! And, of course, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, performing a private concert for the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a few of their guests. Despite being coached not to speak to the Emperor and Empress, the first thing they did at the end of the performance was to join us to chat! It was an incredible honour.

What is it about choral music that moves you the most?

Choral music is as much about community as it is about the actual rehearsing and performing. Canada’s choral community is extensive, and it’s heartwarming to know that anywhere you go – anywhere in the world, for that matter – choral music creates instant camaraderie, and a common goal, a common language. (I’ve been fortunate to have been a member of several professional ensembles in Montreal and Toronto, as well as my tenure with the Vancouver Chamber Choir!)

Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career as a singer?

The late, great, Patrick Wedd was the most influential conductor I’ve had the opportunity to work with. That was in Montreal, where I was a member of Tudor Singers of Montreal (as well as le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, and four other ensembles). Patrick felt there was no music that was too demanding not to tackle (although sometimes it was a close call!). In rehearsal, nothing escaped his ear – he expected near-perfection in the music we created, so we rose to that challenge. He also encouraged other skills within the ranks of the singers – once he found out that I had written some choral arrangements, it was not uncommon for him to hand me a tune, and say “I could use an arrangement of this… how about the day after tomorrow?”

What has kept you going/motivated throughout the pandemic artistically?

Listening, listening, listening. I love listening to numerous online programs, so I’m forever hearing music I’ve not encountered before. There’s always something that grabs my attention…

Any advice for aspiring singers?

To sing choral music at the highest level, it’s not enough to learn how to use your voice. To perform as an ensemble, especially a cappella, it’s crucial to understand at all times the harmonic structure of the piece, and where your own vocal part fits into that harmony. The result is incredible for the performer and the audience.

Artist Spotlight Session with Rob Workman

What is your position in the choir?


What is your favourite memory of being in the Vancouver Chamber Choir?

This being my first season with the VCC, my options are limited, but my fondest memory from the year dates back to our first concert in September. I was incurably nervous, and the conditions for singing were less than ideal (first time singing with masks, more than 6 feet apart.. It was very challenging to hear and tune to the choir). But the experience was incredibly rewarding. “Summer Is Gone” was a fantastic program filled with beautiful poetry. I don’t think the memory of my first concert with the VCC will ever fade. That said, I do very much look forward to a season with full audiences.

What is it about choral music that moves you the most?

For me, the choral experience has always been about community. There is something magical that happens when people from so many different backgrounds and walks of life come together with one voice, one sound, one purpose. Singing in a choir is truly one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

While I yet have many aspirations for my career in music, I do take pride in what I have accomplished so far. My early years of university presented many challenges, including a battle for my mental health. Though the credit of my success goes primarily to my support group of friends and family, I am proud of the progress I have made. With two degrees under the belt, now, I can continue to set my sights farther and work towards my ultimate goal – a professorship.

What is your current state of mind?

Currently, my state of mind is one of gratitude and of hope. The past year has affected us all in many ways, but right now I am so thankful for the safety of my family and friends. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to sing with the VCC despite Covid’s best efforts. And I am hopeful for a year of healing, music, and community.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Does a voice-type count as a talent? Growing up, I desperately wanted to be a low bass. I tried so very hard to make that dream a reality, stretching down to low notes as much as I could, waiting for my voice to drop. That never happened. But hey, I can’t complain – tenors are always in demand!

What do you most value in your friends?

Sincerity. To me, the richest friendships are ones that are genuine – ones in which we share our humour, our sadness, our anger, and our joy. We can grow stronger together.

Artist Spotlight Session with Dinah Lea Ayre

Choir Position:


Favourite Memory of being in the Vancouver Chamber Choir:

Visiting the Maritimes for the first time on our cross-Canada tour of 2019. I love travelling! Getting to explore new cities is one of my favourite things.

What is it about choral music that moves you the most?

I love the community of singing in a choir. There’s something very special about how each voice is a relatively small but integrally important part of the whole picture, like a puzzle piece. When all those pieces are fit together, we can create something much more beautiful and complex than we can separately.

What keeps you inspired and motivated as an artist in Vancouver?

What keeps me inspired is seeing what other artists are getting up to. Vancouver has such an interesting collection of musicians, composers, theater – really everything, if you have a look around!

What has kept you going/motivated throughout the pandemic artistically?

Similar to the last question, it has been about seeing how other artists adapt and continue to produce incredible work. Although I miss live performances very much, the accessibility of online performance is incredible. I’ve watched a lot of performances in the last year that I would never have seen if I’d needed to travel to them. Also, I’ve been incredibly thankful that I get to keep singing with the Chamber Choir over this past season, I am so, so lucky.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Honestly, making music with friends is my greatest joy.

What is it that you most dislike?

Feeling stagnant. I always want to be learning something, moving forward in some way. One thing I’ve definitely wrestled with during this pandemic is having to redefine that on many levels.

What is your most treasured possession?

It’s definitely my piano.


Thank you Dinah for sharing your thoughts with us!

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